From the Athletic
According to an NHL source, at least one team has submitted a lottery proposal that would include a tournament in which lottery teams play for the first-overall pick. At its face, the idea sounds radical but structured the right way this has the potential to be a real asset for the league.
Without knowing the exact details of the proposal, there would have to be some assurances for the teams at the bottom of the standings that their odds of winning a lottery tournament resemble their odds of winning the lottery drawing now. That would mean home games for Ottawa and Detroit, with a fairly easy path to the championship. And likewise, a bubble team would have to go on an all-time run of games to win the lottery.
This proposal would accomplish a couple of things. It would get all players back playing, rather than just playoff teams, which would help level the playing field for next season in terms of rest and time off between games.
It would also engage fans of both playoff teams and lottery teams alike if games return. Imagine for a moment a lottery tournament final between the Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks for the rights to draft Alexis Lafreniere. Or a final between the Senators and Montreal Canadiens for the same thing. The television ratings in those markets would be off the charts.
It would also give the NHL and NHLPA another property to sell to a network outside its current television deal. In the U.S., a tournament like this on ESPN in a summer in which there is less competition for the interest of sports fans would likely be very successful. If it works, the NHL might have something to build on moving forward. If it doesn’t? Never do it again.
“Radical times call for radical measures,” said one NHL source.
It’s fun to imagine. Even if it’s hard to imagine it actually happening. But right now, these are the kind of ideas being thrown around. People have the time and motivation for creativity. At this point, nothing should be off the table. From playoff format to lottery ideas.
“The whole thing is the wild, wild West, man,” concluded an executive.